September 29, 2006

Friday Follies: Opposite Views of the Same Story on the Economy

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:07 pm

First from Reuters, which has not alway been very even-handed in reporting economic news, a pretty decent report:

Consumers bright, Midwest business strong in Sept

By Ros Krasny

CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. consumer spending slipped in August but falling gasoline prices elevated shoppers’ moods by September and Midwest factory activity picked up as well, according to reports on Friday that suggested the economy was still motoring along.

Meanwhile, consumer prices outside food and energy edged up just 0.2 percent in August, although year-on-year price gains hit an 11-year high, offering a mixed reading on inflation.

Poor Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press, on the other hand, must have had a lot of pent-up negativity to get out before the weekend commences, as he took the same data and turned it into what Jim Taranto at Best of the Web described thusly: “If we didn’t know better, we’d think we were heading for another Great Depression.”

Here’s how Crutsinger, who also managed to ignore the good news on Midwest factory activity, led his story (negative and scare words in bold):

Consumers Cut Back Spending in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumers battered by weak income growth and rising inflation trimmed their spending sharply in August. But analysts said a consumer confidence rebound in September should limit damage to the economy.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that consumer spending edged up just 0.1 percent in August after a much stronger 0.8 percent rise in July.

After removing inflation, spending actually dropped in August, falling by 0.1 percent, the weakest showing since September 2005 when the Gulf Coast was reeling from Hurricane Katrina.

Taranto observed:

All this for a decline of 1/1,000th! One suspects the same news would be reported with a rather less grim tone if a Democrat were in the White House.


Cross-posted at

The Polls Done by That Columbus Newspaper Need to Be Dispatched to the Trash

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:17 pm

Of all the annoying things about Ohio elections, the polls done ahead of them are at or near the top of the list.

The most annoying of the lot are the mail-in polls done by the Columbus Dispatch. They are laughably unscientific and have varied from actual results so often, and by such large amounts, that I’m amazed that anyone gives them any attention, let alone credence.

For the quick studiers, I’ll present conclusions first and provide the detail below the fold.

We’re supposed to believe that this is where the two big statewide races stand:

US Senate (Brown-DeWine-Undec.) — 47-42-11
Governor (Strickland-Blackwell-Undec.-No Answer) — 52-33-13-2

I do not believe that this is where Ohio’s electorate is today because:

  • Prior use of similar polls in the eight top-of-ticket races reviewed (the 4 RON issues, 2 Senate primaries, and 2 gubernatorial primaries) led to double-digit errors in margin of victory six out of eight times.
  • Each of those six times, the double-digit margin of victory error was in the direction of the more conservative or less liberal candidate or proposition.
  • To believe the Dispatch polls, you have to believe that the response of the 84% of people who did not respond to the mail-in request would be the same as that of the 16% who did (Dispatch’s methodology page is here).
  • Based on past results, it appears that respondents are more likely to be more liberal and/or less conservative.
  • To believe the Dispatch polls, you have to believe that the 10,000+ people who received the surveys reflect the state’s electorate.
  • Based on past results, it’s pretty obvious that the Dispatch’s samples from past polls haven’t reflected the electorate. The Dispatch appears to have done very little to try to improve its accuracy, and what little it did caused no real improvement in results in the May primary. So it seems fair to say that the Dispatch is still missing large numbers of Ohio conservative voters who either don’t want to be polled or don’t want to be bothered, but who are nevertheless more likely to show up and vote on Election Day (as are many other pollsters). The Keiser and Pierce/Smith “surprises” are the best evidence of that.
  • Finally (and this is instinct), the closeness of the poll result on the Ohio Learn & Earn (OL&E) initiative (48% yes, 43% no, 9%, undecided) does not reflect true sentiment against OL&E on the ground. I believe OL&E is trailing by 15 points now, and will lose by at least 20 points.

Obviously I wouldn’t want DeWine or Blackwell to let up based on all of this, but I believe the reality today is that DeWine is up by 5, and that Blackwell is trailing Strickland by about 5. The Dispatch polls should be dispatched to the circular file.

For details, click “more” if you are on the home page:


Air America Update

Brian at the Radio Equalizer reports that the $875,000 borrowed stolen from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club by Air America Radio (AAR) has been repaid returned. Most of it ($625,000) went to other social service agencies and charitable organizations that took over functions from Gloria Wise after it was stripped of many of its responsibilities in the wake of the AAR scandal.

Brian cites a New York Sun report that “The club’s new chief executive, Fred Lewis, told the Associated Press that the investigation will likely lead to criminal charges.” And after over a year of virtual silence on the scandal, the New York Times actually reported on this story

The identities of those facing criminal charges, if they come, could indeed be revealing.


Previous Posts:

  • Sept. 13 — Air America: Bankruptcy, If It Happens, Won’t Necessarily Mean Disappearance
  • Feb. 26 — Is the Air America Radio Bailout a Violation of Campaign-Finance Laws?
  • Jan. 26, 2006 — The Franken-stein Monster That’s Eating Air America Radio
  • Oct. 21, 2005 — Air America: If They Can’t Make It There, Can They Make It Anywhere?
  • Sept. 8 — Air America Radio (AAR) Update: Is the Endgame Near?
  • Aug. 8 — If It’s Monday, There Must Be At Least Three Obvious New York Times Errors, Omissions, or Hilarities to Report
  • July 27 — Did the Liberal Talk Network Really Steal from Kids and Seniors?

The Fence Will Be Passed, and Will Be Funded

Frist said so last night:

And, just moments ago, the Senate invoked cloture on the Secure Fence Act of 2006 by a vote of 71-28. Tomorrow the Senate will pass this legislation and send it to the President’s desk for his signature.

By requiring the construction of at least 700 miles of two-layered reinforced fencing along our southwest border and by mandating the use of cameras, ground sensors, UAVs and other forms of hi-tech surveillance, this legislation will help us gain control over every inch of our borders. The Homeland Security appropriations bill authorizes $1.8 billion in funding … so construction will proceed as quickly as possible. As the fence is erected, more funding in future budgets will be required, but I’m confident that the 71 Senators who proved themselves serious about border security today will support continued funding.

Michelle Malkin has already said she’s not impressed.

Brain Shavings has a map.

The Wall Street Journal has already said it will be deeply saddened:

The only real way to reduce the flow of illegal Mexican immigration is to provide a legal, orderly process to match open American jobs with workers who want to fill them. Mr. Bush is for that, and so is the Senate, but House Republicans have concluded that they’re better off building fences. When Ronald Reagan spoke of America being a “shining city on a hill,” he wasn’t thinking of one surrounded by electrified barbed-wire fences.

Maybe, maybe not. But Reagan did mention some things the open-borders dingalings at the Wall Street Journal, who have been busily claiming that the Gipper would be on their side if he were alive today, seem to have forgotten (bolded items):

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 is the most comprehensive reform of our immigration laws since 1952. In the past 35 years our nation has been increasingly affected by illegal immigration. This legislation takes a major step toward meeting this challenge to our sovereignty. At the same time, it preserves and enhances the Nation’s heritage of legal immigration. I am pleased to sign the bill into law.

Allow me to translate, WSJ:

  • Reagan obviously agreed with those who oppose all illegal immigration, and disagreed with you.
  • Reagan obviously recognized, as do those who oppose illegal immigration, that open borders and the lack of assimilation that accompanies open borders represent a challenge to our sovreignty. That means he disagreed with you.
  • Reagn clearly recognized the importance of allowing fairly significant numbers of LEGAL immigrants into this country, as do most of those who oppose all ILLEGAL immigration. That means he disagreed with you.
  • It’s fair to conjecture that the Gipper, observing what has occurred in the 20 years since the 1986 Act noted above, would reluctantly agree that a border fence is necessary. More likely than not, he would disagree with you on that too.

The Latest of 57 Reasons to Reject Ohio Learn & Earn Initiative (092906)

From Jill at Writes Like She Talks (original entry relating to Jill’s effort is here):

  • Reason 43: “Because everyone else is voting no” (actually, it’s down in the Columbus Dispatch poll 48-43, but it’s probably not that close).
  • Reason 42: “….. if the concept of Ohio Learn and Earn is so awesome, amazing and worthy of a state constitutional amendment, they why the &%#&%# aren’t each and every one of us in Ohio willing to just give that amount of money over to the Board of Regents starting now?”
  • Reason 41: “Because you, someone you know, someone you love, or someone related to you could become one of these stories” of problem gambling.

UPDATE: Reason 40 — “Because its mere existence forces me into bed with truly strange and otherwise extreme people.” An interesting one. I think when you find out that someone you normally oppose has the occasional sensible streak is beneficial. Just imagine how hard some of us on the right are having to swallow to say that Joe Lieberman is the better choice in Connecticut’s US Senate race. More appropros to the OL&E, the initiative isn’t really a right-left debate as much as it’s a matter of, first, inappropriately matching a public good (education) with a socially questionable enterprise (casino gambling), and second, even if you don’t agree with the first reason, recognizing a bad deal when you see it.

Biz-Econ News Roundup (092906)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:00 am

There’s been something for both optimists and pessimists to feed on during the past two days.

On the optimistic side:

  • Cheaper winter heating bills appear to be on the way — That goes for natural gas, fuel oil, and propane.
  • Sales of new single-family homes went UP 4.1% in August, a total reversal of expectations that they would drop 3.0%. That reversed three months of declines.

Not so good:

  • Mortgage applications dipped last week.
  • Ford’s massive job cuts spread to its credit operations. I’m surprised Ford hasn’t just tried to sell Ford Motor Credit. Maybe this move will dress it up for a sale.
  • Despite the near-record level of the Dow, it’s more than fair, as I mentioned the last time the Dow reached near-record territory back in May, to point out that the S&P 500 is over 12% below its alltime high of 1527 set in 2000, and the NASDAQ is still a whopping 55% below its alltime high of over 5000. I wouldn’t blame anyone for failing to be impressed until the S&P 500 achieves full recovery.

Marvel of the Day: Nanotech Light Bulb

Filed under: Marvels — Tom @ 7:55 am

From the Nashville Business Journal, Vanderbilt chemists connect the dots:

Seeing the light: Nanotech opening door to better bulb
September 22, 2006

One of Vanderbilt University’s projects with the most promising commercialization potential could produce light with less energy.

Sandra Rosenthal in the chemistry department focused her teams’ work on the nanocrystals of cadmium sulfite. Under the old paradigm, changing the size of a nanocrystal would change its color. By accident, a student of Rosenthal’s discovered last summer that making the crystals the smallest size caused them to emit all colors, also known as white light.

That discovery using quantum dots is important because it’s a potential source for solid-state lighting, which uses diodes instead of electricity or gas. Coating blue light-emitting diodes with broad-spectrum quantum dots can create light bulbs could last 50 times longer than the normal light bulb.

“You could really win big in saving electricity and you could really win big in producing less greenhouse gases,” Rosenthal says.

E-Voting in Maryland: “Total Fix” Promised

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:50 am

Diebold means total repair, not fixed elections (HT Techdirt). If Maryland doesn’t get the first, it may get the second.

Positivity: A Canceled Wedding Its Transformed into a Celebration

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:02 am

How about this for a psychological recovery? Kyle Paxman fought through betrayal and sadness to turn a canceled wedding into a charity fundraiser:

In Vt., a canceled wedding is transformed into celebration
Fund-raiser is held to honor strong women
September 10, 2006

VERGENNES, Vt. — Bottles of Zinfandel lined the bar, hotel workers set up giant speakers by a parquet dance floor, and chefs in white hats prepared a lavish meal of Vermont cheddar cheese soup, filet mignon, and crab-stuffed shrimp.

This was to be Kyle Paxman’s wedding day, a day she had dreamed about for years and planned for months. She had sent out 180 invitations to guests from around the country, booked a reggae band, a florist, a trio from the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, a photographer, and the venue, the Basin Harbor Club, on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Then, six weeks ago, Paxman, 29, called off the wedding. According to her mother, Patricia Carbee , the bride-to-be had found out her fiancé, her boyfriend of four years, had been cheating on her. Paxman was heartbroken, but Carbee still had to pay the Harbor Club for the reception .

Rather than scrap the event, they decided to turn it into a charity fund-raiser to celebrate strong women — “beautiful, powerful, charismatic, and charitable women,” as the large green card in the club lobby puts it.

One hundred and twenty-five women were expected to show for the charity bash last night.

“We decided to hold this event after days of tears and sadness, to turn a bad situation into something positive,” Paxman said yesterday in a function room at the 120-year-old club, where she arrived, smiling, in an embroidered white dress, silver earrings, and a light blue shawl.

Her brother, Keith, 32, walked by her side. Her mother followed close behind.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Kyle,” Carbee said, beaming at her daughter. “I think she’s amazing. I think she’s beautiful from the outside in, and I think this really shows her strength.”

….. Carbee said she started canceling the events — the trio, the reggae band, and a golf outing that had been planned for the men. But they were stuck with the bill for the food, open bar, and the rooms at the Harbor Club. “Because of our contract, we had to pay for everything,” Carbee said.

Days later, over dinner at a restaurant, Carbee suggested an alternative plan to her daughter. “I said we could try and make it something else, something positive,” Carbee said, admitting that she was not sure what her daughter’s reaction would be.

After days of reflection, Paxman, manager of a spa in Carlsbad, Calif., said she agreed to turn her wedding into a charity fund-raiser.

The only thing left to decide was which charities they wanted to support, said Carbee.

Paxman, who grew up in Barre, Vt., and studied early childhood education at Castleton State College in Castleton, Vt., chose the Vermont Children’s Aid Society as one beneficiary. The other, she said, came to her one night when she and her mother saw an advertisement for CARE, the international relief organization that focuses on helping poor women. The ad shows women striding purposefully toward the camera and declaring, “I am powerful.”

“We both started crying and she said, ‘I found my second cause,’ ” Carbee said.

Soon, Paxman and her mother had contacted 125 women — family, friends, coworkers, from as far away as Florida and the US Virgin Islands — to invite them to Paxman’s fund-raiser.

Last night, as evening settled on the resort, the women started to arrive, dressed in shimmering gowns. As they entered the resort, many slipped checks into a donation box that Paxman had set out.

After the event, mother and daughter were headed to Tahiti for what would have been Paxman’s honeymoon.